Position: Professor of Political Science
Employer: University of Kentucky
Current City: Lexington, KY
Please tell us about your career
My job consists of two major requirements. I am expected to publish research in high visibility journals and with top university presses, as well as to regularly attend political science conferences and other professional meetings. Second, but related I teach a variety of classes, graduate and undergraduate, in American politics and public politics. I often integrate my research in my classes and the feedback that I receive from students often develops into a significant research project, such as the one I am currently involved in with Yu Ouyang.
What motivated you to obtain a doctorate in political science?
I first became interested in Political Science as a major when Richard Nixon was president. He was such an interesting political figure and the Watergate revelations were so amazing that I followed it up by reading books and articles on politics. I then chose the University of Houston for my graduate degrees (an MA and a PhD). I was inspired by a teacher in a history class: Civil War and Reconstruction. I discovered that I was fascinated by the politics of the 1840s and 1850s, in particular. I also was inspired by a high school teacher in a world history class. One of the major highlights of my career is the emails I receive from students informing me that my classes inspired them. I hope that someday they can pass along the same spirit to their students.
Do you have any advice for students who aspire to hold a job like yours?
The most important advice is to work as hard as you can, even in subjects that you do not like. You are likely to find that they benefit you later in life in ways that you could not predict. A good work ethic is a key to success. I generally dedicate two to four hours every day to writing.